Egypt is set to become the worlds largest importer of wheat for the fiscal year 2023-2024 and it projected to import 12 million tons of wheat, up from 11.2 million the previous year.
A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicted increase in imports due to to increasing demand in Egypt, as well as the need to maintain stock levels.
It comes three years after Egypt announced that its population had surpassed the 100 million mark with bread a staple in most Egyptians’ diets.
Egypt’s domestic production is projected to continue at the same level of 9.7 million tons of wheat a year, with a below-average harvest predicted due to decreasing rainfall.
Egypt struggled to import wheat from the global market last year, with high international prices caused by the war in Ukraine and a weak Egyptian pound leading to a decrease in imports.
Although lower international prices for wheat are expected, Egypt’s ability to both import wheat and continue subsidising bread is likely to be a challenge amid its current economic woes.
Egypt’s latest figures showed that in May inflation was at 33.7 per cent, although the government has managed to mitigate bread inflation, which was marked at 4.6 per cent in May, through continued subsidisation of the commodity.
In April, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) revised Egypt’s credit outlook from stable to poor citing an inability to stabilise the exchange rate and attain foreign currency inflows.
With a continued decline in the value of the Egyptian pound and a shortage of foreign currency, Egypt has turned to deferring payments on wheat purchases.
Egypt provides subsidised bread to 70 million of its 104 million citizens, with the government recently pledging to raise funding for food subsidies to 127.7 billion Egyptian pounds, a 41.9 per cent increase.
Source: The New Arab